Buffon: Neuer not yet one of the greats

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was reluctant to label Bayern Munich counterpart Manuel Neuer as one of the best in the job, ahead of their meeting in the Champions League.

The Bundesliga and Serie A champions are set to clash in the last-16, first leg at the Juventus Stadium on Tuesday, when the veteran Italian and his younger German colleague will both be on the pitch.

“I’ve been fortunate to see some fantastic, reliable goalkeepers with plenty of quality,” Buffon said ahead of the match in Turin.

“Of course Neuer is one of this group of goalkeepers and he’s a goalkeeper who plays in a very open-minded way.

“Obviously given the way his team play, he’s an important pillar who gives them a huge hand, but when I think of great keepers, the likes of [Iker] Casillas, [Petr] Cech or [Oliver] Kahn and many others who I have not mentioned either come to mind. We must not get carried away by the moment.”

While Neuer has earned plaudits for his buccaneering approach to goalkeeping, along with a place in the FIFA Ballon d’Or shortlist in 2014, Buffon has quietly been adding to his legacy by going 654 minutes without conceding.

“I knew it was a while since I last conceded, I admit it,” he added. “But I didn’t know how many games and minutes, and you’re telling me it’s over 600 minutes? Well this says we’ve got a great defence, which is not the same as saying we have a great goalkeeper.

“Of course it helps to have individual players in defence who are reliable with great quality, but when you concede few goals it’s because you have a full team working to ensure that the opponents’ attacks are not dangerous.”